A chronic serious illness often includes physical and emotional challenges that can stop you from enjoying your normal quality of life. Palliative care brings improvements by preventing or relieving symptoms, such as pain and anxiety.

Most common myths about palliative care:

  • It’s only for people with cancer:

Palliative care is intended to support people with any serious diagnosis. People with cancer certainly have a host of symptoms and concerns for which they need support. But there are other conditions such as heart failure, dementia, lung disease, and neurological diseases such as ALS and Parkinson’s which can benefit from palliative care. Many of these conditions can have the same severity of distressing symptoms as cancer, such as pain, nausea, shortness of breath, and depression. People with these more chronic illnesses can benefit from involving palliative care to help maximize the quality of life, and also help navigate future challenges when and if the health status declines further.

  • It means I’m close to death:

Unlike hospice, which requires a certification that a person has six months or less to live, palliative care can be delivered at any stage of a serious illness. Many people utilize palliative care for support and symptom management as they are actively going through chemotherapy or other treatments, to try to support the best quality of life possible. Several studies have suggested that people who receive early palliative care during the course of the illness may actually live longer than those who received standard care, and they also reap the benefits of a higher quality of life throughout the final course of their illness.

--Dr. Laura P., chief medical officer